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Uninformed Voters for Sale: Electoral Competition, Information and Interest Groups in the US

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  • Tim Wegenast

Abstract

This paper analyses how certain electoral settings affect the activity of special interest groups within US state politics. The main result of cross-sectional regression analyses suggests that informed and educated voters prevent political parties from catering to special interests, diminishing the number of lobby registrations, the total amount of campaign contributions as well as groups' overall influence. Electoral competition is believed to exert a curvilinear effect on groups' importance within the political decision making process of each state. Another finding indicates that, in a situation of high electoral competition, voters' level of information plays a pivotal role in determining interest groups' activities. Parties seem to increasingly value median voter's concerns whenever the electorate is informed and political races are expected to be close. An environment of competitive elections and uninformed voters, in contrast, furthers interest groups' activity and strengthens their position within the political arena. This is explained by the rationale that, under such circumstances, politicians increasingly exchange narrowly targeted policies for campaign contributions in order to buy the votes of impressionable citizens. Copyright © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

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  • Tim Wegenast, 2010. "Uninformed Voters for Sale: Electoral Competition, Information and Interest Groups in the US," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 63(2), pages 271-300, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:kyklos:v:63:y:2010:i:2:p:271-300
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    3. Christopher J. Coyne & Peter T. Leeson, 2004. "Read All About It! Understanding the Role of Media in Economic Development," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 57(1), pages 21-44, February.
    4. Daniel Sutter, 2002. "Advertising and Political Bias in the Media: The Market for Criticism of the Market Economy," American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(3), pages 725-745, July.
    5. World Bank, 2006. "World Development Indicators 2006," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 8151.
    6. Peter T. Leeson, 2008. "Media Freedom, Political Knowledge, and Participation," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, pages 155-169.
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